Redshirt Freshmen Could Impact In 2016

NC State head coach Dave Doeren is confident in the depth he has in his program, and he believes his redshirt freshmen class is a really strong group.

NC State's 2015 football recruiting class included several high-profile recruits and talented players, but because of the previous recruiting classes the Wolfpack was able to redshirt several of those true freshmen.  NC State has 18 redshirt freshmen on the spring roster, and the biggest name is talented tailback Johnny Frasier.  The former four-star recruit picked the Wolfpack over several national powers but wasn't ready physically to play as a true freshman.

"He grew up a lot," Dave Doeren recently said of Frasier.  "Coming from a small town, and really the competition he was playing against... he was out of shape, he'll tell you that.  He's changed his body, and he's grown up a lot. The game is starting to slow down for him a little bit.  Now it's about learning the terminology."

One redshirt freshman, Jakobi Meyers, is expected to compete with Jalan McClendon and the other quarterbacks for the vacant starting position at quarterback.

"We redshirted [Meyers] last year," said Doeren.  "Everybody is excited about him as a person and an athlete."

NC State has three redshirt freshmen wide receivers who certainly could work their way into the rotation during spring practice.

"Chandler Belk is a walk-on receiver who is a really good player," said Doeren.  "Brian Sessoms has some speed, and Freddie Simmons is probably the most impressive of the young receivers as far as day in and day out catching the football."

The Wolfpack originally signed Mallard Creek (NC) standout Vernon Grier to play wide receiver, but he was moved to a different position while redshirting.  However, Doeren didn't rule out Grier returning to the offensive side of the ball.

"We've moved him to corner," said Doeren.  "If he stays there it will be because he can play there. If not he'll move back and play at receiver. He's a good athlete who can really run."

Where NC State might need the most help is on the offensive line, as they'll be looking to replace three starters.  Doeren's staff was able to redshirt three freshmen offensive linemen, and it sounds like at least two could potentially see the field this fall.

"Emanuel McGirt, we need him to step up and play," said Doeren.  "He redshirted and has got a lot stronger.

"Aaron Wiltz and Philip Walton redshirted... Wiltz is probably a little further along than maybe of all three because of his wrestling background.  He's just a really strong, tough kid."

On the defensive side of the ball, safety Jarius Morehead turned heads all fall with his play on the scout team.

"[He] was one of one of our scout team players of the year at safety," said Doeren.

Defensively, the position that probably needs some depth provided from the redshirt freshmen is at defensive end, and physically, two stand out right away. 

"Emmanuel Olenga is a 6'5 and 260-pound defensive end that can run," said Doeren.  "Tyrone Riley  is a 6'7 defensive end with a 7-foot wingspan, and he's almost 280 pounds now.  I'm excited to see what he can do."

One 2015 signee who originally projected to be a sophomore heading into the fall but is actually a redshirt is James Smith-Williams.  The Raleigh (NC) Millbrook standout enrolled early and worked at nickelback and linebacker before moving to defensive end where he played early in the season before suffering an injury.

"James Smith-Williams played a little early and had the season-ending injury," said Doeren.  "We were able to get a redshirt on him.  "He's up to 240 pounds, and he can really run.  He'll be at least a speed rusher if he can't get big enough to play on first and second down."

Doeren, who spoke about several of the redshirt freshmen on his spring radio show, is certainly pleased with the group that came in with the true freshmen who contributed in the fall.

"It's a good class... I mean a really good class," he said.  "You'll see a lot of those kids on the field in the spring."


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